Pawleys Island Chef proves to be a cut above the rest, selected as S.C. Chef Ambassador

Adam Kirby, the Head Chef and co-owner of Bistro 217 & Rustic Table in Pawleys Island, was one of four selected as S.C. Chef Ambassadors. (Credit:

Adam Kirby, the Head Chef and co-owner of Bistro 217 & Rustic Table in Pawleys Island, said he learned the difference between a good meal and a bad one from his mother and grandmother.

He never imagined being selected as one of the top chefs in the state when he was flipping pizzas as a teenager though.

“It’s hard work, but it’s very gratifying,” said Kirby. “People spend a quarter of their lives eating, and we can make them really happy doing that and there’s something very special about it.”

The Chef Ambassadors program was started by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014, and it aims to embody the best of South Carolina’s food scene.

Kirby was one of four chefs selected to travel across the Southeast sharing his skills with people at events and educational seminars.

"If you have passion and love what you do, I'm willing to teach you everything I know. If someone comes in and asks me how I make something I tell them," he said.

He said he's also looking forward to showcasing what his area has to offer.

"4 out of 10 people now come to destinations for food. It's not only that we live in these beautiful beaches and you can do all this great stuff, like fishing and golf, but we have a great culinary destination here too," Kirby said.

Kirby's coworkers said he leads by example.

Robert Larobardiere, who works alongside Kirby in the kitchen, said Kirby makes everyone strive to be better and do more.

"You want to be as enthusiastic about the food that he's making as you are with your food, so it's really important and it really brings up the morale in the kitchen," he said.

The general manager of Bistro 217, Shawn Small, said that what truly makes Kirby stand out is his willingness to listen to his customers and put his trust in his staff.

"He said, 'There's no such thing as a food you don't like; you haven't found a way you like it prepared.' Ever since then, everything that comes out of that kitchen, trust me, I'll try it, sometimes twice," Small said.

Everyone at Bistro 217 agreed on one thing--while the long hours and hard work can sometimes be difficult, the full bellies and smiles of diners make it all worth it.

"When they have something and they say, 'That's the best whatever I've ever had,' that makes your day," Small said.

For more information about the Chef Ambassadors program, click here.

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